This battle I had prompted this question.

In the above battle, Fire Blast missed. Twice. A simple Flamethrower would have ended the battle much sooner.

               | Power | Accuracy | "Average" output |
| Flamethrower |  90   |    100%  |     92.8125      |
| Fire Blast   | 110   |     85%  |     96.421875    |

Factoring in that accuracy, your average output is barely 3.5 Base Power higher than that of Flamethrower, and Flamethrower isn't prone to sudden bursts of luck.

(Personally I use Flame Burst - you lose 10BP for it, but the ability to hit the other opponent for 1/16th of their HP, bypassing everything from Substitute to Protect is pretty sweet. Can't tell you how many times I've splashed out a Pokémon that Protected! Great for breaking Focus Sash too!)

I also calculated Heat Wave, factoring in hitting two targets your average overall Base Power expectancy on that move is 66-ish per target, so 132 overall. Not bad!

So, why do people use Fire Blast and related moves? Is that little bit of extra power really worth it? Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?

  • "Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?" Choices like these are generally not left to probability, they're made very deliberately. Usually someone will run the numbers and figure out that with only X Special Attack EVs they can 1-shot a common counter using Fire Blast and have Y EVs leftover to invest in some other stat, or max Special Attack EVs and nature will come up short of the 1HKO against that specific target.
    – Doval
    May 11, 2014 at 17:56

4 Answers 4


why do people use Fire Blast and related moves?

Well, this is heavily due to the style of battling. Whether someone likes to play a riskier battle, like I think there's a saying that goes like if 'the more you risk, the more you might gain' (and of course, the more you might lose).

Is that little bit of extra power really worth it?

Re the answer above. It depends on whether someone feels the extra power but trade off accuracy is better. Some people feel they have a lot of luck, and rarely see it miss, some people would make the Pokemon hold a Wide Lens in an attempt to restore some of the lost accuracy.

Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?

That one might be considered too broad. There are various sets (in terms of stat distribution), various Pokemon (typing, base stats, abilities, natures) and various conditions (weather, items, buffs/debuffs) to take into consideration. And 1HKO are not the only things to consider. Fire Blast could 2HKO a Pokemon where Flamethrower would require 3 hits, or 3 hits for Fire Blast against 4 for Flamethrower.

You might want to read this smogon article where parts are discussing about Fire Blast and Flamethrower. It's based on Gen IV data though, but still something you might find interesting.

For instance, let me quote those lines:

Both of the OU Fire-types, Heatran and Infernape, have huge Special Attack stats with which they use to fire off (pun intended) monstrously powerful STAB Fire Blasts. Heatran in particular can even 2HKO certain Pokemon that resist its Fire Blast (such as Salamence).

Even Pokemon that are resistant to Fire-type attacks can and will be 3HKOd by a STAB Fire Blast from the likes of Moltres, Blaziken, Houndoom, and Typhlosion.

Fire Blast: This is probably the most popular Fire-type attack in the game. Amazing power, with passable accuracy (better than Stone Edge, at least) makes this the bread and butter for any Fire-type's moveset, as well as Pokemon looking for Fire-type coverage.

Flamethrower: Here is the reliable alternative to the above option. However, you'd be surprised at how many OHKOs/2HKOs you miss out on when using this move (like Nasty Plot Infernape failing to OHKO Cresselia). However if you feel you can't afford a miss, like on a Pokemon such as Choice Scarf Heatran that may be holding your team together against threats like Swords Dance Lucario, this is an effective move.

  • Regarding the Smogon quote... who the hell would use an Infernape against Cresselia? It's stuff like that that reminds me that the people at Smogon are... kinda silly in their battling ways. May 11, 2014 at 10:55
  • @NiettheDarkAbsol Might happen, if you don't have any Pokemon left in your party that can more effectively battle a Cresselia, you can get a 'surprise attack' while you opponent thinks he/she can 1HKO your Pokemon (or Infernape is out, your opponent sends out Cresselia thinking it can beat Infernape).
    – Jerry
    May 11, 2014 at 10:57
  • Also. I believe that was just meant to be an example. Remember cresselia is primarily a wall, so it's a good choice as the type matchup for a fireblast/flamethrower is neutral too.
    – Everywhen
    May 11, 2014 at 11:04
  • 1
    Hm. Fair enough. I think, considering the kind of luck I usually have, I get enough misses with Ferrothorn's Power Whip as it is, I'll stick with safer, less powerful moves! May 11, 2014 at 11:12
  • I've tried out Fire Blast on Goodra. It seems to work. I must have majorly irritated one opponent, though, when their Fire Blast missed twice and then I used their own Sun to throw three Fire Blasts back XD Sep 16, 2014 at 9:35

I'm surprised none of the other answers give this reason:

Do you need it to connect? (or, how badly do you need it to connect?)

Consider this situation in Gen 4 (DPP) Pokemon:

  • You: a 100% health 252 SpA Modest Life Orb Moltres currently active.
  • Opponent: a Steelix currently active, and a 69% health 248/0 Milotic in reserve.

Your Moltres knows Fire Blast/Flamethrower, Air Slash, Roost, and Hidden Power: Grass (basically the standard Moltres set). Obviously both Fire STAB moves knock Steelix out if it stays in, but of course opponent knows this. They could leave Steelix in to die and get a free switch in, or they can switch to Milotic. The latter move is the much riskier one for you, because it means the opponent gains the initiative if they succeed. Accordingly, you want to use something that is maximally effective against a Milotic switch while still being OK if Steelix stays in. Notably, if your opponent switches to Milotic, you get two attacks (since Moltres outspeeds Milotic), and opponent regains 6.25% health (because of Leftovers).

Here are the damage calcs:

  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Moltres Fire Blast vs. 248 HP / 0 SpD Milotic: 111-132 (28.2 - 33.5%)
  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Moltres Flamethrower vs. 248 HP / 0 SpD Milotic: 89-105 (22.6 - 26.7%)
  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Moltres Hidden Power Grass vs. 248 HP / 0 SpD Milotic: 176-208 (44.7 - 52.9%)

Analyze these numbers carefully. If your Moltres has Flamethrower and your opponent switches to Milotic, you can fail to KO with the subsequent HP Grass. This means your opponent's Milotic gets to attack back or use Recover. On the other hand, if your Moltres has Fire Blast, and it connects, your Moltres will likely win.

Accuracy is not a factor here. If you use Fire Blast and it misses, then you are not KOing Milotic, but if you use Flamethrower, you are still not KOing Milotic, so it's moot.

Put another way, the average damage output matters less than whether the total damage output is sufficient. If Fire Blast has a 100% chance to KO the opposing Pokemon if it connects, while Flamethrower will only do 90% of the target's HP, would you prefer to have Fire Blast or Flamethrower? Sometimes it'll be the latter, but most of the time, it'll be the former. That is why people use Fire Blast.

Edit: as an addendum, it's worth pointing out that if you are running a Baton Pass team, then each move on your BP receiver needs to be 100% accurate, because you cannot afford a single miss (in general if the BP receiver dies, the rest of the team crumbles). See:

One Pokemon on your team should be your receiver, the Pokemon who is passed the boosts your Baton Pass chain has gathered. When this Pokemon gets +6 in the attack stat chosen to use (or some mixed sweeper equivalent), it should be able to OHKO every single Pokemon on the opponent's team with 100% accurate moves, since one miss can mean big trouble. Your receiver should also not be 4x weak to any priority move, and it might be helpful for your receiver to also have Baton Pass, but fitting it onto your receiver's moveset can be difficult while simultaneously trying to OHKO every single Pokemon on your opponent's team. Immunity to Toxic Spikes is a great thing to look into, and if your receiver needs to use a Life Orb to get certain KOs, it should be immune to sandstorm as well due to how common it is in OU, or else it can be stalled by good prediction on your opponent's side.


This is more of an opinion question, however I will try to answer the question from the Meta point of view.

In most movesets in the meta game, people will choose the less powerful/more accurate moves, because even though they have less BP, they are generally enough to get the job done at a competitive level.

Overpowered moves are high risk, high reward.

People would use these moves (for example) in situations where they have an accuracy boost, or something similar, where they are sure of the hit connecting.

In the Meta, most players prefer to be assured of a 2HKO then risk an inaccurate 1HKO.

To answer the other part of your question, Fire blast is much more likely to OHKO a pokemon than Flamethrower.

But in general, the less powerful variants are better overall as they are less likely to give your opponent a free turn to set up or KO you.


Hopefully this helps:

After experimenting myself, I've found that you can eliminate lower accuracy by equipping items like a Wide Lens to your Pokemon. Once you are sure that your more powerful move has equal accuracy (Fire Blast/Flamethrower), all you need to do is analyze your competitive standpoint and prepare for moves like Knock Off. Competitive battlers trade accuracy for power, but if you want accuracy, this is a way you could maintain it.

  • Wide Lens etc don't eliminate lower accuracy, but they do reduce it.
    – Robotnik
    May 19, 2015 at 6:08

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